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Saturday, October 16, 2021

Cybercrime on the rise during pandemic, but no trials completed since last year

Cybercrimes steadily increased in the state from 4,822 cases in 2019 to 5,458 cases in 2020 but the detection rate remained at 18% in both years, which is a significant drop compared to 2018 when the detection percentage was 32.8%.

Written by Jayprakash S Naidu | Mumbai |
September 27, 2021 1:30:58 am
In these 382 cases, the accused were convicted in 99 cases (26%) and acquitted in 283 cases (74%). (Representational)

CYBERCRIME IS the only crime, apart from motor-vehicle thefts, which saw a rise during the pandemic, but the detection and conviction rate continue to be a major issue and not even a single trial of such cases has been completed in Maharashtra since 2020 till August this year.

Cybercrimes steadily increased in the state from 4,822 cases in 2019 to 5,458 cases in 2020 but the detection rate remained at 18% in both years, which is a significant drop compared to 2018 when the detection percentage was 32.8%.

Another major issue is the conviction rate. In the past seven years, 2015 to 2020, a total of 21,970 cases were registered of which only 5,513 were detected (i.e. 25%). Out of these 5,513 cases detected till 2020, trials are complete in only 382 (i.e. 7% of the cases) while the remaining are pending before courts or are under investigation.

In these 382 cases, the accused were convicted in 99 cases (26%) and acquitted in 283 cases (74%). Cyber experts pointed to loopholes in the law, lack of knowledge, inaction and awareness as major issues for the increasing cybercrimes in the state.

“The reported cases are just the tip of the iceberg and many cases go unreported. The low conviction rate of cybercrimes is because of a lack of in-depth knowledge in police officers, prosecutors and magistrates. The prosecutors and magistrates need to be apprised of the
intricacies of cybercrimes and the technology used to commit the crime. As per the IT Act, 2000, only an inspector can investigate cybercrimes. Computer science graduates need to be recruited in the force and regularly trained to investigate cyber-crimes. The detection rate is poor because cybercriminals keep innovating their modus operandi and techniques and the police due to the unavailability of technology, training and manpower have been unable to keep up. Last but not the least, there has to be a lot of awareness on a regular basis by the police department against cyber-crimes,” said D Sivanadhan, former Police Commissioner of Mumbai and Director General of Police (DGP), Maharashtra.

Advocate Prashant Mali, a cybercrime lawyer in Bombay High Court, suggested the use of Lok Adalat for speedy disposal of cases and pointed out the urgent implementation of an initiative by the Ministry of Home Affairs where a cyber fraud victim can call and freeze the bank account where his/her money is transferred by a cyber-criminal.

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